Can my ex-wife make me pay attorney fees when I don’t make enough money? 20 Answers as of February 14, 2013

My ex wife for the past 3 years has taken my income tax for back pay, but this year I will finally be caught up with my child support and now she wants me to pay for her attorneys fees for our divorce. I get paid $10 and hour and only work 40 hours a week and have a 2 other kids. Can she make me pay for her attorney fees even if I can't afford it?

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Fox Law Firm LLC
Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
No she can't make you pay for her attorney's fees. There are various circumstances that we look at before we determine whether one should pay the other spouse's attorney's fees and if the parties don't agree, it is up to the judge to decide. In your case, I do not believe the judge will order you to pay.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 2/14/2013
Kalil & Eisenhut, LLC | Michael N. Kalil
Most Courts only award attorneys fees when there's a disparity of income. If she makes more than you she could possibly be responsible for your attorney's fees.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/13/2013
Keenan & Austin, P.C.
Keenan & Austin, P.C. | John J. Keenan
She can't make you pay her attorney fees unless the court ordered you to pay them. If the court did order you to pay them, the only way to get out of that would be to file a motion with the court and see whether the judge will let you off the hook. I think that would be a long shot though.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/13/2013
Marion E. Ellington, Jr. Attorney at Law, PC
Marion E. Ellington, Jr. Attorney at Law, PC | Marion E. Ellington, Jr.
Payment of attorney fees is up to the court to decide.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 2/13/2013
The Ticktin Law Group
The Ticktin Law Group | Peter Ticktin
The Court looks at a number of factors when deciding whether not one party to a divorce has to pay the other party's attorneys fees. Section 61.16(1), of the Florida Statute, authorizes the circuit court to order a party to pay a reasonable amount of attorney's fees and costs to the other party in a dissolution action. The standard for awarding attorney's fees in dissolution cases is the financial need of the requesting party and the financial ability of the other party to pay. So it would depend on the specific facts and circumstances in your case. I advise that you speak with an attorney about your case to determine whether your ex wife would be entitled to her attorneys' fees.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 2/13/2013
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier | Seth D. Schraier
    If you and your wife cannot reach a settlement, which will usually waive claims for attorney fees, and the case goes to a full trial, then she can ask for attorney fees. However, attorney fees are in most cases only awarded to the "less monied spouse", meaning that if your wife makes about the same or more than you do, then it is likely that her request for attorney fees will be denied.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/13/2013
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    What does the Order say? If she has a Court Order requiring you to pay her attorney's fees, then yes, you are required to pay her attorney's fees because it is in the Order. If an Order has been issued that does not include attorney's fees (or leave the issue open for later determination), then I don't see how she can obtain attorney's fees. If the case is still open, she could request the Court to order you to pay her attorney's fees. Since the issue surrounds past due child support, a Judge could ultimately award her attorney's fees, but the Court would take into consideration your current financial circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/13/2013
    LAW OFFICE OF ANNE B. HOWARD | Anne B. Howard
    A judge could order you to pay for her fees depending on how much she makes. If you owed support, there may be an automatic right to get attorney fees from you for collection.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    John Russo | John Russo
    You should call an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    If it was part of the original court order, or in any subsequent order to make sure you paid, then yes, you will have to pay. Talk with your attorney to see what the orders said.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Carey and Leisure | John Smitten
    If you have no assets from which to pay fees, then no.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    ROWE LAW FIRM
    ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
    Attorney's fees for the divorce are a community obligation-just as joint bills you may have run up while you were married. If you were represented during the divorce, your attorney's fees are chargeable to the community as well, so the two charges would offset one another, normally.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Kevin H Pate
    Kevin H Pate | Kevin H Pate
    The first question would be whether or not you are under an existing order to pay her attorney fees. If not, she has no ability to force you to do so. If responsibilities for those fees were assigned to you by the court, and they remain unpaid, she can seek to enforce the court's order. This addresses the attorney fees for the divorce itself. You would also need to determine if she has been granted attorney fees by the court as to any subsequent collection activity after you went into arrears on making your payments.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP | Kathleen DeLacy
    The Court would have to order it, she can't just make you.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    Did the Court order you to pay her attorney's fees? If not, no she cannot make you pay for her attorney's fees. If yes, then yes she can.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    She can ask for attorney fees but that does not mean the court will grant them. This will depend also on your expenses. You can show the court your income and expenses and that you cannot afford to contribute towards her fees.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO | Ryan J. Lewis
    no, you will not have to pay her attorney fees.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Henry Lebensbaum | Henry Lebensbaum
    It is up to the court.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You must pay what is ordered, look at the judgment and orders.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/12/2013
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Is it in the decree? If so, then yes. If it is not in the court orders and she is just asking, then the answer depends. She can ask and ask and threaten and demand but she cannot force you to pay for something (a judge can).
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 2/12/2013
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